SafeTalk with SafeStart

S1Ep5 Rate Your State

May 21, 2020 SafeStart Season 1 Episode 5
SafeTalk with SafeStart
S1Ep5 Rate Your State
Show Notes Transcript

 The Rate Your State Process for SafeStart is the best way to protect your SafeStart investment. Think of it as BBS for SafeStart! 

Host: Danny Smith

Tim Page-Bottorff
Welcome back to the podcast SafeTalk with SafeStart. I'm one of your hosts, Tim Page-Bottorff and your other host is Danny Smith. Today we're going to talk about Rate Your State. Sit back, relax, grab a pen, and grab a piece of paper. This will be a quick bonus session, so here's Danny. 

Danny Smith
Thank you for joining us today on SafeTalk with SafeStart. I'm your host, Danny Smith, and today I'd like to explore one of the questions that we get well all of the time. Really, how do you keep SafeStart alive? One of the best suggestions that I could give you would be something we call Rate Your State. Now many of you know I'm not only a SafeStart consultant, I'm also a former client and man I ever wish that we had had Rate Your State, way back when I implemented the SafeStart process almost 20 years ago with the company I was working for at the time.  Rate Your State is a great way to reinforce the SafeStart concepts through planned interactive conversations, and it all starts as a supervisor-to-employee discussion. But we want to see these transition over time to peer-to-peer as soon as possible. In fact, the eventual goal is to get everyone using this tool individually as sort of a self-checkup. 

Now, many of you are familiar with the observations done under traditional behavioral-based safety systems, commonly called BBS. The overall goal of those processes is to have positive and meaningful conversations on a regular basis about safety. Unfortunately, some have turned into gotcha programs or the blame game, where those type approaches override much of the good that's derived from the program in general. In other circumstances, I've seen observation processes that have to be propped up with things like quotas or incentives, and those tend to lead to people pencil-whipping and giving you bad data. Now, don't get me started on the idea either of somebody trying to do a self-observation. I mean, after all, hey, I'm perfect, right? If you don't believe it, just ask my family. No, no, no, no, no. Second thought don't do that, that's not a good idea at all. Behavioral-based systems were also very difficult in applications like the trucking industry, for outside salespersons, for service techs who work out of their van and maybe they only go back to the office once or twice a week, those situations where you only have one person working in a geographical area and it just doesn't make a lot of sense for one person to have to travel 50, 60, 75 miles in order just to do an observation with a person and then turn around and try to get back to their geographical work area. So again, Rate Your State is different because it can ultimately be a tool that is used not only in the conversations with coworkers but also to assess yourself before you undertake a particular task. Now I'd be remiss if I didn't talk a little bit about the origins of Rate Your State. 

See, this actually came to us as an idea from a plant manager that was using this to check himself every morning when he arrived at his facility. You see, he noticed when he arrived one morning that he remembered very little about his drive into work. He'd been preoccupied with thoughts about his tight schedule for the day, conversations he'd had the day before are we going to meet the sales goal for the month? Who knows what else? You know, just all of these things that were bombarding his mind and obviously complacency was very high for him. It caused him to stop and kind of wonder what else had he missed on the way in. Did he stop at all the stop signs, for example? Did he lower his speed in the school zone when he was leaving his neighborhood? See, the reality was he couldn't really even say because he couldn't remember any of those specific portions of his drive. So after that day, he took one of the SafeStart cards and he put it on the corner of his desk. Then every morning he would pause for a few moments when he arrived and asked himself some questions. First, he'd rate his level with each of the four states on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. How rushed did he feel at that particular moment? Was he trying to get three or four last-minute things together before his morning production meeting, or was he focused on the task that he was about to do? Then he'd move on to the other states in sequence frustration, fatigue and complacency and again rate himself 0 to 10, 10 being the highest. If he realized one of those areas were high, then he knew he had an issue that needed to be dealt with. 

Now fast forward a bit, and the plant manager shared this basic concept with us and then encouraged us to share it with others. We added a few other things to it, including stopping after you Rate Your State to think about what those errors the states could cause, particularly in light of the next task that you were about to undertake. More specifically, then, we also focused on the CERTs, the Critical Error Reduction Techniques, and which of those would help prevent making the potential errors. So we've also added some other things in there, like a thought-provoking question at the end of each conversation when it's used among co-workers. We've got a whole list of them, but there are things in there, and this is one of my favorites If your best friend's son or daughter was about to start work here and they asked you to take their son or daughter aside and talk to them about some of the most dangerous things that they'd be working around, what specifically would you tell them? 

Now, as you can imagine, these questions help get people involved in thinking a bit more about the tasks that they're going to be doing. They get some thinking about the hazards that they're working with as well, a little bit more. Now, again, it's not a full-blown job hazard analysis or JHA, JSA, whichever you call those in your organization but it's a great complement to those JHAs and JSAs because it focuses on how you're going to potentially interact with the hazards you're about to face Most of those that already identified in the JHAs. But if one or more of the states is high, well, that could obviously lead to an error like mine not on task that could put you in contact with the hazard that you're about to be working with because of another error, like potentially lying on a line of fire. 

If you think back to the original parts of the SafeStart course, we talked about dealing with complacency and, specifically, we discussed needing a way to actively fight complacency, like looking at other people or perhaps working on those safety-related habits to help compensate for complacency. If we didn't have something like that in place, then we were literally reduced down to having to wait for some form of external stimulus to bring us back to the moment. Unfortunately, those external stimuli did I get that right? The plural stimulus is stimuli. It sounds kind of funny, doesn't it? Anyway, we'll go with it. The stimuli are most often negative the auto accident you pass on the side of the road, the siren and flashing blue lights behind you, your spouse or significant other yelling watch out while you're driving. Or maybe it's another driver confirming that you indeed are number one. Strange, they use that finger to signify number one though. 

But anyway, you see, here's the problem these external motivators only provide a temporary spike in our awareness. Then our brains will eventually and it's usually pretty quickly return back to other thoughts and complacency rears its ugly head once again. You see, it's really impossible to stay at a really high level of awareness all the time, kind of a hyper-awareness type state. I mean, our brains just are not wired that way. But if we can get enough of these external motivators in place and have it in a systematic manner, then it can have great benefits, and that's a large part about what Rate Your State is all about. It's a really clear and fast way of gauging how likely somebody, or even yourself, is to make a mistake that could result in an injury or performance error. 

Let me give you a personal example. Last year we moved talk about high levels of frustration, but that really didn't play a part in this particular story. Another part of my background that you may not know is I grew up in a family of residential contractors, so I picked up a lot of skills when I was younger from working around family members. So fortunately, I'm able to do a ton of things around the house myself. That really comes in handy when you buy a place, like the one that we purchased, that needed some work done to it. So back to Rate Your State. 

One evening, after I'd worked from home there in the day and had been literally on conference calls and or on the computer all day long, I was moving a wall in our bedroom. The closet in the master bedroom wasn't quite large enough and we had the space in there, so I just go move it out about two and a half feet and make a little more room inside the master closet. So I checked, it was not a load bearing wall, not a big deal, just basically had to tear the old wall out, frame up the new and put a new door in and actually was moving the door from one side to kind of a center door, that type of stuff. So anyway, I was tearing this wall out. I got all the demo done. I framed up most everything other than just where the doorway itself was going to go, and I was at that point putting the the header in over where the door would be, and I had already cut a couple of two-by-fours just to brace that part of the header over the door. And I'd pre-cut those and I was starting to screw them in. And there was one of the pieces that I knew I had to screw in first, and so I was reaching for another piece and going to go and put these two in together and all of that type stuff. And as I went to screw one of them in, I realized that I'd already done it, I'd already screwed that piece in. 

I was just so tired that I had literally forgotten what I had just done, maybe 90 seconds ago, and so what I did at that moment was I kind of stepped back and said okay, you need to kind of check yourself and see where you're at. I did a quick informal Rate Your State or I guess, more accurately, a rate in my state, and I realized just how exhausted I really was. So rather than continue trying to finish something that really would probably only take me a few more minutes, but if I did it the next day when I was more fresh and alert, then I probably wouldn't risk making a mistake that could either get me hurt or cost me more time or money if I continued because of the fatigue I decided, you know what, with the fatigue at this level, I just need to stop it for the night and it's not really gonna matter if I finish the header over the door tonight versus in the morning. So I called it a night. Now that again is an internal self-check that I did, but it stemmed from having taught others about Rate Your State and having those types of conversations with other people on the shop floor in numerous different industries. 

So the Rate Your State program is really a practical application of the SafeStart concepts. It converts the SafeStart knowledge into new safety skills and habits while sustaining the process over time by providing an easy and effective way to foster lots of communication and skill-building opportunities. In essence, Rate Your State is really the hands-on or the in-the-field portion of the SafeStart training. As I mentioned, Rate Your State is really used in three basic ways. First of all, it starts off as a supervised-led conversation with workers and that's done through a trained the trainer provided at your site to ensure your supervisor doing this well. Next, we have the peer-to-peer communications we touched on earlier and then, finally, the personal application. 

So implementing Rate Your State begins with the supervisory training and focuses in on making sure that we have good supervisor-worker conversations. And, if you think about it, the supervisors are a great starting point for this process because they are accountable for safety, production quality, all sorts of things that can be impacted by the state, to error pattern that we talk about with SafeStart. These supervisors have regular communication with workers and they can set good examples, like demonstrating the importance of the initiative, even through their own behaviors, and showing employees how to do this properly and effectively. And supervisors can also use Rate Your State to intervene when they sense there's a potential problem. One SafeStart client who has a crew that works at extreme heights uses this tool on a regular basis to Rate The State of his crew, and he does it several times throughout the day as a supervisor. It helps tell him when it's too dangerous for the crew to perform a high-risk activity like working from a height, and maybe for a bit of time he needs to switch to something less risky, perhaps doing some of the prep work that they have to do on the ground. But it also puts the states on everybody's radar and sometimes that's all it takes to avoid an accident or a costly mistake that leads to a performance error. 

So once the supervisors have successfully completed Rate Your State, the next step is to introduce it as peer-to-peer conversations. Confirming that the employees have fully grasped the SafeStart concepts is also a sound indicator that they're ready for the more advanced SafeStart training, the critical decision units that we talk about. So practicing Rate Your State becomes automatic, creating an almost habitual way of assessing states and influencing safety decisions. And maybe the best part of all this, once you're trained in it, is it only takes you about five minutes to get your employees back focusing on things that could get them hurt or could cause them to make a costly mistake. That wastes time or money. 

So I suppose we could say that we all have a choice. 

I mean, you can wait on those things to occur naturally, have those painful and perhaps costly motivators and, trust me, they'll come. Or you can schedule these external motivators through Rate Your State and avoid the almost always negative consequences, so you exchange them for motivators that always have positive outcomes and add to a positive culture. It also eliminates the need for things like the quotas and incentives that we talked about before, because, well, literally this can take on a life of its own where everyone is not only doing Rate Your State conversation, but they're also doing those self-checks that we talked about. So I found Rate Your State is one of the best methods of sustaining SafeStart and fighting complacency. By encouraging workers to actively assess their current state or state, Rate Your State helps keep safety, risk and error on everyone's mind and it prevents rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency from compromising safety, production and quality. Well, we're out of time for today. If you'd like more information on Rate Your State, please contact your account manager for more details or you can visit safetartcom. 

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